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Bikes Power Boats Indian Bike Engines Are Used In Bangladeshi Boats

Updated: February 9, 2013 4:58 pm

A Bajaj Discover motorcycle belonging to one Nepal Karmakar of Wagsik hamlet in West Garo Hills district of Meghalaya was stolen on June 04, 2011. The victim lodged a complaint at Bagmara police station of West Garo Hills district in this regard.

Next day, Bagmara police station intimated company commandant of 40-battalion of Border Security Force (BSF) about the incident. After receiving the entire information from Meghalaya police, the BSF alerted all its international border outposts.

Meanwhile, Bhwanipur border outpost commandant of BSF contacted his counterpart of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) commander of Bijoypur in Netrokona district of Bangladesh requesting him to trace the stolen motorcycle in case it has crossed over to his side of the international border. The BGB commandant immediately took the initiative and traced out the stolen bike on the same day, i.e., June 5, 2011.

Next day, on June 6, the international border flag meeting was held between the two sides near international border, pillar number 1154/6-S, where the BGB company commander of Bijoypur handed over the bike- (Bajaj Discover with registration number ML-09/8412) to BSF (see picture).

Believe it or not, it is true that boats are run by bike engines in Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi smugglers have found bike smuggling highly lucrative business along the hilly states close to international border. The gangs of smugglers are active between Meghalaya and Bangladesh. The areas have turned out to be a safe haven for smugglers, operating without any fear.

Hero Honda, Yamaha RX 100, Bajaj Pulsar, Bajaj 100 CC to 120 CC/135 CC- are the two-wheelers targeted by the smugglers and sold in Bangladesh. The purchasers buy the engines of bikes at a cheaper price and use them in their small boats, locally called bhutbhuti or phatphatti (powered by a minimum 03 horse power to 05-horse power and maximum 30-hp to 40-hp).

Actually, the engine is only for propulsion and its power depends on how far into the river it travels. This so-called boat, also popularly known in India as shallop or shallow (a kind of boat without masts), runs on petrol, diesel and kerosene oil in the rivers close to international border between India and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh imports bikes from Japan and North-Korea mainly. The reason is that India has never shown any interest to export two-wheelers to Bangladesh.

After a few miscreants were caught, it was only revealed after their interrogation the gravity of the problem.

The superintendent of police (SP) of West Garo hills district conceded, “We have arrested a few Bangladeshi miscreants, who were engaged in lifting bikes.” The miscreants arrested at that time were 20-year-old Kanchan Koch and 31-year-old Santa Koch alias Sarna Koch, with some stolen bike engines. It was only after their interrogation that police came to know about their modus operandi.

“It is a fact that Bangladeshis are using this kind of bike engines into their boats. However, these boats are harmful for marine lives, including fishes, river dolphins, river soft shell turtles and others”, emphasized a local journalist E M Jose of Meghalaya.

“It has been happening for long. Initially, we have no clue about the racket and thought that bike-lifters and smugglers are smuggling bikes from India for Bangladeshi youths. Each engine is sold at a cost of Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000. However, the amount depends upon condition and mileage of engine,” claimed one of the intelligence officials of BSF, earlier posted in Dhubri district of Assam.

“Initially, we thought it’s entangled with the insurgency of northeast, but later we found that it is also used in the boats of Bangladesh for river transportation system. These bikes are also lifted from Assam (Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Bongaigaon and Kamrup districts) and West Bengal (Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts), adjacent to Meghalaya,” revealed one of the intelligence officials of Indian Army, earlier posted in Kamrup district for counter insurgency operations.

“The engines plucked from the stolen bikes are used in boats of Bangladesh. The engines, especially of the bikes- like Bajaj Pulsar, Hero Honda- offer good mileage. Further, these engines use lesser fuel than others”, mentioned a local automobile expert. The BSF jawans have thwarted several smuggling efforts and seized motorcycles in the past. On April 27, 2010, the jawans prevented three smuggling bids from carrying bikes to Bangladesh from Dalu in Meghalaya. “Upon enquiry, we have come to know that there are gangs of smugglers active in Tura of West Garo Hills district,” claimed an official.

“We have obtained some specific information from Meghalya and West Bengal that smuggling is rampant in West Khashi Hills of Meghalaya. Some Garo tribesmen of the side of Bangladesh have made international border a safe haven for bike-lifting. The corridors of India-Bangladesh borders, where bike smuggling is very high include, Bagmara, Killapara, Nokshi,” pointed out an official of Assam on condition of anonymity. Supporting the facts, M Kharkrang, SP of West Garo-Hills district of Meghalaya said, “In Borosora of West Khashi Hills district, one Kala Mian has been active in sending bikes to Bangladesh, where the engines of the vehicles are removed quickly.”

Smuggling of two-wheelers was quite rampant in Tripura earlier, between the year 2004 to 2005. “Before the international barbed wire fence installed on the Indo-Bangla border near Akhaura-Lankamura in West Tripura district, no one used to leave motorcycle in his gharer-uthan (courtyard). If anyone left by mistake, next day his bike was missing,” recalled Sanjit Pal, a resident of Palpara near Lankamura in West Tripura district.

“Yes, what Sanjit Pal said is true. It is a big international border racket. With the help of Bangladesh Rifles (earlier known as BDR and now BGB) the entire Fakirmura and its adjacent villages- Heerapur, Anwarpur, Kalyanpur, Noorpur, Abdullahpur, Kalikapur, Dhaleswar, Bara Kuripaika and Shaheb Nagar of Brahmanbaria district of Bangladesh are directly involved in bike-lifting. Abbas Mian in cahoots with the BDR has been running the racket along the international border,” revealed Debi Rao, a BSF constable, posted at Akhaura-Lankamura.

However, during a flag meet between the BSF and the BDR, Lieutenant Colonel Syed Quamruzzaman, commanding officer of BDR and Jahangir Alam, BDR sector commandant of Comilla of Bangladesh, denied the presence of bike-smuggling racket.

By Shib Shankar Chatterjee From Karimganj

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